The New Orleans Pelicans received devastating news on Monday when superstar and well-known unibrow enthusiast Anthony Davis requested a trade, and multiple media outlets are reporting that the Knicks intend to officially enter the AD sweepstakes.
If ever there was a time to use the phrase “oh snap,” it’s now. The brouhaha began, as most NBA brouhaha’s do nowadays, with a Tweet from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, laying out how AD’s agent, Rich Paul, informed the Pelicans that the 25-year-old five-time All-Star “has no intention of signing a contract extension if and when presented and that he has requested a trade.”
The fact that Davis wants to be traded isn’t too surprising, as it feels like we’ve been dealing with stories about where he might play once he decides to leave the Pelicans for years, but the Knicks hadn’t previously been described as a realistic landing spot. That’s no longer the case. In the wake of the initial Woj bomb, Chris Haynes at Yahoo! Sports reported that the Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers are “preparing to make offers” for Davis. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, meanwhile, went on multiple shows and podcasts and said things like “I think New York would be one of the few teams Anthony Davis would be willing to sign an extension with.”
Suddenly, the Knicks winding up with AD is something that credible reporters seem to see as a real possibility, which is a crazy idea to grapple with when the team you root for is so deep in the throes of tanking that each loss feels like a miniature version of a victory.
Now, let’s dig into the facts of the situation and discuss whether or not AD to the Knicks is a thing that could really be in the cards.
There’s No Guarantee A Davis Deal Is Imminent
Before we all freak out and lose our composure, it’s important to consider the possibility that the Pelicans aren’t going to just immediately trade Davis now that he’s made it known he wants out. The team certainly didn’t sound happy in a fatherly statement that was issued, which acknowledged the news and expressed disappointment in AD’s decision.
The Pels also stated that “relative to specific talks of a trade, we will do this on our terms and our timeline. One that makes the most sense for our team and it will not be dictated by those outside of our organization.”
Does that sound like a team that’s prepared to make a franchise-altering transaction within the next 10 days? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, drawn out public relations disasters are no fun, so there is a chance the Pelicans decide to make a move.
Okay, cool. Who else is in the sweepstakes besides the Knicks?
Other teams that were mentioned as players in the AD sweepstakes include the Lakers and Boston Celtics, while Yahoo! reported that the Philadelphia 76ers are not currently planning to pursue a deal. If we’re being honest, every team in the NBA should be at least having some kind of internal, informal discussions about Davis.
The Lakers are, of course, an intriguing destination for Davis. LeBron James even said so himself in December, when he told ESPN that if the Lakers could nab AD in a trade it “would be amazing, like duh.” If all this talk about the Lakers is evoking an image of the word “tampering” in your brain, it’s because soon after LeBron’s comments, the NBA reportedly issued a memo to teams reminding them not to connive behind the scenes, unless they’d like to be penalized.
The Pelicans directly mentioned tampering in their statement, indicating that they’re tired of people talking about the guy they still have under contract until the summer of 2020, and according to Marc Stein of the New York Times, a spokesman for the NBA revealed that the league has opened an investigation related to the AD situation.
The Celtics, meanwhile, are in a precarious position. Apparently, there’s a provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that precludes them from acquiring Davis until the summer, so unless Danny Ainge knows something the rest of us don’t, the Celtics have no choice but to sit on the sidelines for the next week and a half.
Can the Knicks get AD without giving up KP?
At first glance, it would seem obvious that the Knicks would have to give up Kristaps Porzingis in any deal that brings back Davis. But Woj, speaking on ESPN radio’s Golic and Wingo morning show, said that Porzingis could give the Pelicans pause because there’s no guarantee he’ll re-sign as a free agent.
“So, if you’re the Knicks, the best chance you have is getting the number one overall pick and being in a position post-lottery time where you could tell the Pelicans, ‘Hey, you can have Zion Williamson, you could rebuild with him,’” Woj says in a clip you can listen to right here.
The Knicks should tread lightly when it comes to including Porzingis in a proposal anyway, as we saw how he acted in response to what he (correctly) perceived to be poor coaching and management by Jeff Hornacek and Phil Jackson. A skipped exit meeting is one thing, but no one wants to live in a world in which the Knicks offer Porzingis but don’t agree to a deal, and then it leaks that the Knicks offered Porzingis.
It would be incredible if the Knicks could somehow pick up Davis without relinquishing Porzingis, and it’s not like they don’t have other assets to trade. In addition to the potential number one overall pick, there’s Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina and Louisiana native Mitchell Robinson, not to mention players like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Enes Kanter. The Knicks could certainly put a solid package together, but that doesn’t guarantee the Pelicans won’t prefer someone else’s offer.
Show Some AD Highlights Already
What Comes Next
The next week and a half is going to be wild. There will be more reports, increased speculation and conspiracy theories galore, and the ‘Bockers will be involved in all of it. Prepare for plenty of entertainment, plus a dose of apprehension, as we wonder whether lady luck might favor the Knicks in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes.